For most pirate captains, the thought of joining forces doesn’t come naturally. But with the various towns friendly to them being burned to the ground, someone has to make a stand and unite them in the face of the threat. Captain Drake Morass intends to be that man, by any means necessary.
Two points to consider before we get to the review proper:
- This book is the first in a series that is itself a sequel to the author’s previous series, The Ties That Bind, and shares characters with them.
- You don’t have to have read those previous books to be able to read & enjoy Best Laid Plans. Obviously, it will deepen your understanding but it isn’t necessary.
The book is mainly divided between three primary characters; Drake Morass, a killer and con artist who seeks to set himself up as a pirate king; Keelin Stillwater, a conflicted man who embraces the pirate life but who seeks to avoid bloodshed and Elaina Black, Keelin’s former lover and daughter of the most feared pirate in the region. Each of them is drawn vividly and even though they spend chunks of the novel on their own voyages, they strike sparks off each other when they are together. Each of them is flawed in their own way, and they’re not ‘good’ individuals, but they certainly hold the attention.
One of the things that I particularly liked in this book was the way chapters were broken out. Rather than by character, they are separated by ship, which does come in handy when some of the lesser characters get a chapter to themselves.
Another thing I enjoyed was that the author didn’t feel the need to explain everything about the characters. We’re given hints about their backstories (some of which may be answered by the previous series) but mostly we’re left to piece things together for ourselves.
Where Loyalties Lie is everything you could expect (or want) from a grimdark pirate novel; sword fights, ship to ship battles, drinking, and some inventive cursing. As befits that, the book won’t necessarily be for anyone and there are a few unsavoury scenes but, nothing that you wouldn’t encounter is several other grimdark novels. If that’s your taste, then you’ll definitely enjoy this book.
One final note; shortly after I started reading, Where Loyalties Lie was voted the winner of this year’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off. So I’m not the only one recommending this.